Four essential principles

guide us through the creation of truly sustainable and whole farming systems that balance the social, economic and environmental dimensions of sustainability


  1. PROGRESSIVELY IMPROVE WHOLE AGROECOSYSTEMS (SOIL, WATER AND BIODIVERSITY) to achieve increased agricultural productivity while enhancing ecosystem services and climate resilience.

  2. CONTINUALLY GROW AND EVOLVE THE HUMAN CAPITAL to improve livelihoods and foster inclusive economic growth, and enhance the resilience of people, communities and ecosystems

  3. CREATE CONTEXT-SPECIFIC DESIGNS AND MAKE HOLISTIC DECISIONS THAT EXPRESS THE ESSENCE OF EACH FARM to achieve higher rates of efficiency in the use of key inputs, including water, nutrients, pesticides, energy (including farm power), land and labour.

  4. ADAPT GOVERNANCE TO NEW CHALLENGES and enhance dialogue and coordination with other stakeholders, strengthen innovation systems and facilitate knowledge and capacity sharing within farms from our portfolio.


The ultimate goal on the farm is to [for ex.: become entirely self-sufficient, producing all of the feed, water, energy and fertiliser that we need to sustain our stock]. Many aspects of this rely on drawing upon old knowledge of agro-ecological farming systems, while others involve embracing new technology such as drip irrigation, soil monitoring and tractors.



Intercropping nitrogen fixing trees, plantains, beans, and cocoa trees in the farm helps to produce organic matter through leaf litter decomposition which  ultimately improves microbial activity and overall soil fertility. In addition, the farm has developed protocols to use composted cocoa pods as secondary inputs which will enable us to reduce dependency on chemical fertilizers. Over the next decade, we hope to reduce chemical fertilizer use by over 50%.

Our 800-Ha agroforestry system consists of 4 different shrub and tree species that are inter-cropped: cocoa, plantain, pigeon pea, legume and timber trees. Pigeon peas and plantain are fast-growing species, providing an early and temporal shade to the cocoa seedlings, while also providing early cash-flows. Additionally, the pigeon pea is a leguminous shrub which fixes nitrogen and is a source of food for birds. We also plant Gliricidia sepium and Dipteryx panamensis trees, which grow at slower rates and provide shade to the mature cocoa trees; these timber trees also fix nitrogen and provide lots of organic matter which allows worm populations to thrive. In this way, we always have soil cover and loosen compacted substrate.



Cuango farm has over 600 ha of tropical natural forest set aside for conservation. We look to support and enhance habitats around the farm, making space for as many species as possible in and alongside the agricultural land. It is common to walk across the farm and hear holler moneys calling in the distance. Closer to the protected areas it is easy to catch sight of a Short-billed Pigeon, Spotted Antibird, Plain Xenops as well as other songbirds.

In October 2018, we conducted a biodiversity assessment where 10 camera traps were installed to detect mammal species within Cuango’s primary forest. The traps covered an approximate area of 600 hectares. A variety of IUCN and CITES listed species are present in the protected natural forests: Ocelots, Margays, Pumas, Peccaries, Agoutis, Coatis, Tayras, Ant eaters, and many different birds and bats species, were identified over a period of 35 days. This assessment will allow us to monitor wildlife on the farm.

We would like to link these activities to a larger research project in order to evaluate the impact of transforming extensive cattle farms into agroforestry systems. Cuango serves as model for studying how forest connectivity using cocoa agroforest corridors and mixed plantations of native timber species can increase biodiversity. We are seeking strategic partnerships with research institutes and universities interested in conducting long-term research.

In 2019, we won the World Resources Institute prize [insert name] for regenerative farming and wildlife conservation. The implementation and integrated management of these wildlife spaces was cited as an important reason for the farm’s success.


Precision agriculture




The ultimate goal on the farm is to…


permanent Soil cover


Organic matter cycling

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Smallholder program “one by one”

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The ultimate goal on the farm is to…


cocoa pod composting

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smart mechanization and precision fertigation

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Single mother program

Building on succesful social programs of our partners in the country, our post-harvest plant will ensure employment opportunities to those who are too often forgotten or denied opportunities in the Dominican Republic - single mothers.


The ultimate goal of the farm is to preserve varieties of fine-tasting cocoa


organic rehabilitation

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biological diversity conservation

One common strategy for adapting to climate change is to exploit locally adapted crops and varieties. These genetic sources offer higher resistance to the abiotic and biotic stresses that result from climate changes. Taking advantage of years of on-farm selection processess led by the previous owner of the farms, we are using better adapted varieties while preserving varieties of fine-tasting cocoa.


empowerment of agricultural communities

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The ultimate goal of the farm is to adapt to severe droughts magnified by climate change


severe drought adaptive measures

A water reservoir is being built to capture and store rainwater and water from the rivers that cross the plantation during the rainy season so that the plantation does not suffer from severe droughts that are increasingly recurrent.

Composting of cocoa pods will begin in year 2019 which will not only decrease the need for chemical fertilizers, but also improve the water retention capacity of the soil, ultimately saving important amounts of water.

Additionally, the irrigation system is being repaired which will reduce current water loss due to leakages.


Precision agriculture

12Tree is making a considerable investment in Maquencal’s fertigation system which will apply smaller doses of fertilizer and allow the project to substantially reduce the current operating costs of mechanical and manual application of fertilizer.


Feature 3

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